Pound4poundireland’s 2017 Fighter of the Year

Rungvisai Gonzalez Boxing

Fighter of the Year

1. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai

2. Vasyl Lomachenko

3. Mikey Garcia

Mikey Garcia reminded everyone of his talent this year, continuing his comeback from a long layoff to first destroy titlist Dejan Zlaticanin at lightweight in a KO of the year candidate, then dominate Adrien Broner at 140.

“No Mas-chenko” was coined in boxing lore thanks to consecutive schoolings in 2017 of Jason Sosa, Miguel Marriaga and (the admittedly much smaller) Guillermo Rigondeaux, all of which resulted in corner retirements, cementing Vasyl Lomachenko near the top of everyone’s estimations of boxing’s top fighter.

Wouldn’t it be great to see Lomachenko-Garcia in 2018? A shame that promotional differences, maybe size too, will keep them apart, at least for now.

The outstanding fighter of 2017 to my eyes was the formerly unheralded Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

Prior to 2017, the Thai, birth name Wisaksil Wangek, a former kickboxer of over 50 professional fights, was most known for a brief 115lb. title run that ended in a cut-shortened defeat to Carlos Cuadras in 2014.

But, having not faced a fighter with a decent record in two years, he fought a savage war with consensus pound for pound #1 and undefeated lower weight legend Roman Gonzalez, coming out with a hotly debated decision win, one which I felt he had earned.

All debate was quenched in the immediate rematch 6 months later, when Rungvisai stepped it up yet another gear and flattened Gonzalez brutally in the fourth round.

He’s earned his place among boxing’s elite, will have a chance to further his case against another lower weight darling when he takes on Juan Francisco Estrada next month, and is the Pound4poundireland Fighter of the Year for 2017.

 

Fights to look forward to in 2018?

Note: I’ve kept this list to bouts that can realistically happen next year, hence why you won’t see any fights like Burnett-Tete or Kovalev-Beterbiev on this list that are likely prevented by promotional/TV differences etc.

1. Tyson Fury- Anthony Joshua

Now that Fury’s UKAD situation has finally been sorted out, he can end his two year plus layoff and this long-discussed fight can approach becoming a reality.

It’s probably a long shot for 2018, but here’s hoping.

2. Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder

More likely in the immediate future is AJ vs. Wilder for all of the sanctioning body marbles, arguably the most exciting fight that can be made in boxing.

3. Oleksandr Usyk-Murat Gassiev/Yunier Dorticos

As long as Usyk beats Mairis Breidis in his World Boxing Super Series semi, this fight should happen in the final to determine ultimate cruiserweight supremacy.

4. Sergey Kovalev-Dmitry Bivol

Bivol recently signed with Main Events and if Kovalev is really on the wane, perhaps a win in a fight like this could be what launches Bivol to stardom at the expense of his promotional stablemate.

5. George Groves/Chris Eubank Jr.-Callum Smith

Groves-Eubank in February is already as good as it gets in terms of matchmaking, but an expected showdown between the winner and Callum Smith in the WBSS final comes close to as mouthwatering.

6. Gennady Golovkin-Saul Alvarez II

This is a rematch that probably wouldn’t have been necessary if the judges had gotten things right the first time, but it’s still a fight that will be hugely anticipated.

With Canelo in his prime as both a boxer and darling of the judges, and Golovkin looking like he’s slowed down, maybe this will be the Mexican’s crowning glory.

7. Gennady Golovkin/Saul Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders

The winner will have to face slick and underrated Billy Joe Saunders for undisputed 160lb. supremacy, however, and let’s hope that happens by this time next year.

8. Keith Thurman-Errol Spence

This is the obvious fight to be made at 147 (at least until Terence Crawford establishes himself at the new weight), but whether it will happen or not is a different question.

Thurman has expressed reluctance, expressing his preference to push it back until 2019 and admitting he’s lost some of his hunger for boxing.

9. Lee Selby-Carl Frampton

If Selby schools Josh Warrington as expected and Frampton overcomes a potentially dangerous fight with Nonito Donaire, this is the final destination that would make most sense.

They have the same promoter, Frampton wants another world title shot and Selby is looking for his defining fights after a few years in the wilderness.

10. Naoya Inoue-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai/Juan Francisco Estrada

It’s a shame that Inoue will possibly not stick around at 115lbs. long enough to meet the winner of the excellent upcoming SSR-Estrada fight, but why not just make it for 118 instead?

Pound4poundireland’s 2017 Fight, Knockout, Round, Prospect, Upset and Trainer of the Year

Fight of the Year

1. Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko

2. Dominic Breazeale-Izuagbe Ugonoh

3. Orlando Salido-Miguel Roman

Knockout of the Year

1.  Zolani Tete ko1 Sibonsino Gonya

https://pound4poundireland.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/full-fight-video-zolani-tete-vs-sibonsino-gonya-fastest-world-title-ko-in-history/

2. Jermell Charlo ko1 Erickson Lubin

3. Carlos Daniel Cordoba ko6 Martin Ariel Ruiz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0ti_zenlbU (@ 5:45)

Round of the Year

1. Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko Round 5

2. Roarke Knapp-John Bopape Round 3

3. Dominic Breazeale-Izuagbe Ugonoh Round 3

Prospect of the Year

1. Josh Kelly

2. Jaime Munguia

3. Vergil Ortiz Jr.

Upset of the Year

1. Caleb Truax MD12 James DeGale

2. Jeff Horn UD12 Manny Pacquiao

3. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai MD12 Roman Gonzalez

 

Trainer of the Year

Derrick James – for his work with Jermell Charlo and Errol Spence

Pound4poundireland’s 2016 Fighter, Fight, Knockout, Round, Prospect, Upset and Trainer of the Year

Fighter of the Year

1. Carl Frampton

carl-frampton

2. Andre Ward

3. Vasyl Lomachenko

Fight of the Year

1. Francisco Vargas-Orlando Salido

2. Jamie Conlan-Anthony Nelson

https://pound4poundireland.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/full-fight-video-anthony-nelson-vs-jamie-conlan-fight-of-the-year-candidate/

3. Leo Santa Cruz-Carl Frampton

https://ok.ru/videoembed/93337488021

Knockout of the Year

1.  Hassan N’Dam ko1 Alfonso Blanco

2. Deontay Wilder ko9 Artur Szpilka

3. Murat Gassiev ko1 Jordan Shimmel

Round of the Year

1. Yoshihiro Kamegai-Jesus Soto Karass I Round 10

2. Jamie Conlan-Anthony Nelson Round 5

3. Edwin Rodriguez-Thomas Williams Jr. Round 2

Prospect of the Year

1. Jarrett Hurd

2. Jason Quigley

3. Hughie Fury

Upset of the Year

1. Joe Smith Jr. ko1 Andrzej Fonfara

2. Jezreel Corrales ko2 Takashi Uchiyama

3. Julius Indongo ko1 Eduard Troyanovsky

Trainer of the Year

Shane McGuigan – mainly for his work with Carl Frampton, but also George Groves

Fights to look forward to in 2017?

Note: I’ve kept this list to bouts that can realistically happen next year, hence why you won’t see any fights like Thurman-Bradley or Santa Cruz-Lomachenko on this list that are likely prevented by promotional/TV differences.

1.Tyson Fury- Anthony Joshua

If AJ can emulate Fury by beating Klitschko, and Fury can overcome his myriad mental health and drug issues, this is the most meaningful and, possibly, the biggest money fight in heavyweight boxing.

2. Anthony Joshua-David Haye

I say “possibly”, because boxing’s ultimate conman, David Haye is looking for his cashout fight & remains a bigger name than Fury.

3. Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev II

After a highly skilled first meeting that ended with the most debated decision of recent years, the only way to definitively settle matters would seem to be an immediate rematch, which happens to be in the contract from the first bout.

But there’s often a way out of rematch clauses…

4. James DeGale/Badou Jack-Callum Smith

DeGale-Jack is the first treat of the 2017 boxing year, and the imposing figure of Callum Smith looms as mandatory for the winner.

DeGale-Smith would be big in the UK, but, whomever wins out between DeGale & Jack, it’s mouthwatering.

5. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin

In 2016, Gennady said “give me my belt”, and Canelo did.

Last year, I expressed optimism that Canelo would fearlessly face this challenge. That’s gone out the window and reputational damage has accrued. It’s a lot of agonizing to do over a fight that probably won’t be that competitive in the ring.

Still, we all want it, and a helluva lot more than proposed Canelo-Lemieux or, god help us, Canelo-Chavez Jr. bouts.

6. Kell Brook-Amir Khan

This fight, talked about for so many years, appears to be in serious negotiations for the first time. A ton of pride and each man’s legacy would be at stake. Surely it must happen eventually, why not 2017?

7. Manny Pacquiao-Terence Crawford

Freddie Roach hasn’t sounded too enthused about Pacman taking this fight, but one can speculate Bob Arum would be interested in a little of the great Filipino’s star power rubbing off on perhaps the USA’s best current fighter.

Pacquiao proved he can still go in 2016 and Crawford will be at welterweight sooner rather than later.

8. Ricky Burns-Adrien Broner

This oft-mooted bout has been discussed again as of late, and, while it would mean a lot less now due to each man’s wavering fortunes, it’d still be a lot of fun.

9. Orlando Salido-Vasyl Lomachenko II

It’s a fact that the great Lomachenko was beaten by a taxi driver. Let that sink in…

Salido recently outed himself as an Uber driver in his spare time, and, while the negotiations for this one have recently gone cold, I certainly want to see Lomachenko try to avenge the blot on his pro record before moving further up in weight and people’s pound for pound lists.

10. Roman Gonzalez-Naoya Inoue

Now that we’ve seen Ward-Kovalev, this is my pick for the best fight that can be made in boxing.

2 undefeated, p4p-rated, knockout punchers in their prime — ignore the weight if that sort of thing distracts you, this is a fight fan’s dream.

Named and Shamed: Judging the Judges (Special Edition: The Tyson Fury Situation)

Last November, in arguably the biggest major-fight upset in recent years, Tyson Fury decisioned the second longest reigning heavyweight titlist of all time, Wladimir Klitschko, to improbably ascend to the top of the division.

A man who was once seen as lumbering, out of shape and lacking stamina had proven that he could box on the outside like no 6ft 8″ man before him, and that his “too fast” moniker was more than just self-deprecating humour.

But, other than a great tactical gameplan, what was behind the transformation?

Now we know that Fury, and his cousin Hughie (one of the heavyweight division’s top prospects), tested positive for nandralone, a classic anabolic steroid, in February of 2015, information initially leaked by the Sunday Mirror on June 26th of this year.

The test was carried out by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD), an organization whose reputation was recently damaged by their inaction in the case of informant tip-offs regarding Dr. Mark Bonar’s illicit activities with top sport stars.

As I will elucidate below, further inaction has marked their handling of this case.

The Furys have taken aggressive action and decided to sue UKAD, claiming that their position is strengthened by at least two subsequent negative tests in the following months, as well as testing clean in whatever testing surrounded the Klitschko fight. They also claim that UKAD informed them that the positive test was likely the result of a contaminated dietary supplement.

“The two boxers strenuously deny taking any performance-enhancing drugs,” said Fury lawyer Lewis Power.

“However, during the last five weeks leaks about these charges have appeared in the press and both boxers have been the targets of continual abusive language on Twitter.”

There are so many unanswered questions here, that I don’t even know where to begin.

If the positive test was in February 2015, why did it take UKAD until June 24, 2016 to “provisionally” suspend the Furys & prevent them from boxing?

Tyson fought twice in that time span, and Hughie 5 or 6 times. How could this have been allowed when UKAD knew they had a positive test on their hands?

What was being done in all that wasted 16 months, and what did any investigation undertaken by UKAD into the Furys’ case reveal?

It comes down to results management, and the expediting of drug test results is more important in fight sports than anywhere else.

UKAD have since lifted their provisional suspension, theoretically allowing the Furys to continue to box, pending a future hearing.

To quote from their statement: “The UK Anti-Doping Rules allow athletes to challenge the imposition of a Provisional Suspension and [we] today lifted the athletes’ suspensions, pending full determination of the charges. These charges will be heard at a hearing before the NADP in due course”.

Under what reasoning was an end to the provisional suspension granted?

Why is a hearing needed to determine if an anti-doping violation has occurred? What is it about this particular case that doesn’t match with the standard ‘positive A & B samples equal a ban’ equation?

Will such a hearing take place before the all-important Klitschko rematch, tentatively scheduled for late October?

If, at this hearing, an anti-doping violation is confirmed to have occurred, will Klitschko’s loss be overturned and the titles stripped from Tyson?

What we do know is that the Team Fury have already lied on at least two occasions surrounding these positives. Firstly, claiming an ankle injury as a reason to delay the Klitschko rematch, announcing as such on the very day the provisional ban came into place. Quite a coincidence.

They also lied on June 26th, releasing statements saying they were “baffled” at the doping rumours in the press, when in fact they knew they had been suspended two days prior.

 

What a mess.

Between this case, and the test failures of Alexander Povetkin, Erkan Teper, Lucas Browne, Tony Thompson & Luis Ortiz, I have about as much faith in the cleanliness of the heavyweight division as I do the 100m sprint.

And that’s not even getting into a discussion of the suspiciously gargantuan physiques of some of the other top guys in the division.

 

EDIT 16/9: Team Fury still claim that the ankle injury was legitimate and that they were informed of the provisional suspension less than an hour after they had announced publicly the posponement of the bout.

At this point, as the rematch has been made official for October 29th, it is unclear whether the UKAD hearing on the tests will take place after the bout, or expedited to before it. The latter is quite obviously the only sensible option.

Team Fury further claim that, when first informed about the failed tests, they were informed by UKAD that they had done nothing wrong and were given dietary information on foods which may contain nandralone.

We can only hope the truth of the matter becomes more clear in the aftermath of the hearing.

Pound4poundireland’s 2015 Fight, Knockout, Round, Prospect, Upset and Trainer of the Year

Fight of the Year

1. Anthony Joshua-Dillian Whyte

2. Takashi Miura-Francisco Vargas

3. Edwin Rodriguez-Michael Seals

Knockout of the Year

1. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez ko3 James Kirkland

2. Courtney Blocker ko2 Dominic Goode

3. Gabriel Bracero ko1 Danny O’Connor

https://pound4poundireland.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/video-gabriel-bracero-vs-danny-oconnor-ii-knockout-of-the-year-candidate/

Round of the Year

1. Edwin Rodriguez-Michael Seals Round 1

2. Amir Imam-Fidel Maldonado Jr. Round 3

3. Marco Huck-Krzysztof Glowacki Round 6

Prospect of the Year

1. Anthony Joshua

2. Takuma Inoue

3. Callum Smith

Upset of the Year

1. Tyson Fury UD12 Wladimir Klitschko

2. Yvan Mendy SD12 Luke Campbell

3. Aron Martinez UD10 Devon Alexander

Trainer of the Year

Joe Gallagher – for his work with Anthony Crolla, Scott Quigg, Callum Smith & Liam Smith

Pound4poundireland’s 2015 Fighter of the Year

Fighter of the Year

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

2. Tyson Fury

3. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez

This is not a popularity contest.

This is not a personality contest.

Based on accomplishment in the ring, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the Fighter of the Year for 2015.

The facile Berto coda was meaningless, this is all about the Pacquiao fight. It was craved as much as any other bout in history, teased for 5+ years, and caught the imagination of the wider sport-watching public & way, way beyond.

As with many mega-fights in boxing, it took place when the fighters were past their prime, and, unfortunately, it was a damp squib in terms of action, Mayweather making Pacquiao look like almost all of his prior opponents, comfortably outboxing him for a wide decision win.

Nobody had ever done anything approaching this to Pacquiao before.

Distracting talk of Pacquiao’s (laughable excuse/)shoulder injury aside, Mayweather proved beyond doubt that he is by far the best boxer of his generation.

IV/USADA-gate was another dampener on what was a cynical money grab from everyone involved, but no fighter produced anything this year to rival Mayweather’s display of pure boxing mastery from 7 months ago.

mayweather.pacquiao

However, Tyson Fury’s display to ‘out-Klitschko’ Klitschko and improbably lift the heavyweight crown comes in at a healthy second place.

An easy win over clubfighter Christian Hammer confirmed his credentials as a solid mandatory challenger for Klitschko, who had reigned for 9 1/2 years (the 2nd longest title reign in heavyweight history) over 18 successful defences.

A Fury knockout due to Klitschko’s much maligned chin was remotely conceivable, but not the manner in which he made Klitschko malfunction with his reach, size and constant movement. Klitschko’s final punch output of just 52 landed out of 231 was desultory. He looked old and unable to pull the trigger.

Ultimately, it was a close fight but Fury was not to be denied, walking away with the biggest prize in boxing to compliment his formidable size and self belief.

A rematch is in negotiations for May or June, and, while it will likely be another messy affair, it is intriguing. The result will go a long way to determining the future of the division in the coming years.

Canelo had his best year yet in 2015, confirming his status as Mexico’s premier fighter.

Washing the bad taste from many people’s mouths post-Mayweather-Pacquiao was never going to be an easy task, but Canelo did his best just a week later with a brutal knockout of James Kirkland in front of a partisan packed house at the Houston Astros’ baseball stadium.

Then came the fight craved by so many, a middleweight championship showdown (albeit at a catchweight unfortunately dictated by the champion) with Miguel Cotto, and, thus, the torch was passed.

The bigger Canelo used a mixture of brawn & sharp, composed boxing skills to win a well-deserved decision and make his first real mark in the history books.

Canelo has balls, and has to be praised for the high level opposition he’s consistently faced since taking on Austin Trout in mid-2013.

If anyone’s going to give Gennady Golovkin the shot at super-stardom he so deserves, it’s Canelo, and the fight is mooted for September.

Fights to look forward to in 2016?

Note: I’ve kept this list to fights that can realistically happen next year, hence why you won’t see any fights like Thurman-Bradley or Santa Cruz-Lomachenko on this list that are prevented by promotional/TV differences.

 

  1. Anthony Joshua-David Haye

God knows what’s left of David Haye, or what he’ll look like after a 3 and a half year layoff & major surgery, but this classic clash of young and old could quite easily be built up into a money-spinning stadium filler.

 

2. Deontay Wilder-Alexander Povetkin

Povetkin, mandatory to Wilder’s portion of the title, would be the perfect test of Wilder’s still-largely-untested pretensions of bringing American glory back to the heavyweight division.

Only count on this fight taking place if a deal can be arranged to bring it to America. If a purse bid dictates Russia, then Haymon will almost certainly have Wilder bin his belt.

 

3. Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward

Probably the best fight that can realistically be made for next year, and, supposedly, a deal is already tentatively in place if they both win 1 or 2 interim bouts.

Can Ward make his layoff pay off, or will his years on the shelf rob him of the apex of his prime needed to beat the fearsome, also highly skilled Kovalev?

The winner of this one could lay a strong claim to pound for pound supremacy.

 

4. Adonis Stevenson-Artur Beterbiev

Stevenson-Kovalev never happened due to the Haymon/Main Events divide, but this is the next best thing.

It could be the logical passing of the Haymon 175lb. torch, as the unbeaten amateur sensation meets an ageing champion who has been on a steady diet of also-rans.

 

5. James DeGale-Badou Jack 

This fight would decide the #1 super middleweight in the world (sorry, Arthur Abraham), and is makeable because they are both with Haymon.

Jack has been a real success story in 2015 & his high-activity pressure style should be a good match with the slick, but hittable and sometimes lazy, southpaw DeGale.

 

6. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin

Golovkin is Canelo’s mandatory but that doesn’t seem to mean much to the Mexican sanctioning body in question.

That said, the fight seems possible for September, would once & for all decide the true middleweight champion, and would either establish Canelo as a true Mexican great or give Golovkin the marquee name he’s been craving to propel him to PPV stardom and the big bucks his talent deserves.

 

7. Billy Joe Saunders-Chris Eubank Jr. II

They served up a thriller laced with bad blood in 2014, and, now that Saunders has a world title, it’s a rematch that makes sense next year.

It’s made more realistic due to Eubank’s surprise departure from Matchroom & Boxnation’s announcement of a new PPV outlet, meaning more money to make bigger matchups.

 

8. Kell Brook-Amir Khan

God, how we’ve longed for this fight.

Maybe now that Mayweather and Pacquiao have definitively given Khan the finger, he will finally take the big pot of gold on offer for a Brook Wembley showdown.

Does Khan still have the passion for boxing, fighting as infrequently as he has & begging in the media for big fights, rather than going out and earning them? Could that be the difference if it happens?

 

9. Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter

Rumoured for February or March, this is a fight fans have been calling for since Porter beat Broner in June.

He’ll get his shot at a career-defining win, and provide Thurman with a chance to justify his hype by taking on a top welterweight in his prime.

 

10. Viktor Postol-Terence Crawford

Who’s the best at 140lbs.?

This fight would decide all, and would match two of the best technicians in the sport. Let’s hope it happens before Crawford moves to welterweight & calls for super fights.

 

11. Takashi Uchiyama-Nicholas Walters

Uchiyama has long been one of the best fighters few outside the hardcore fans have heard of, and is the top man at 130lbs.

A rumoured trip to America to take on the rapidly rising ‘Axe Man’ Walters would be a premier matchup & chance to showcase his skills to the widest audience.

 

12. Gary Russell Jr.-Leo Santa Cruz

There are many excellent in-house fights that Haymon can make in his loaded featherweight stable, but this is the one that I like the most.

Russell’s speed versus Santa Cruz’s relentless pressure would be a delicious confrontation.

 

13. Roman Gonzalez-Juan Francisco Estrada II

Here we are again…

They served up a jr. flyweight thriller in 2012, and, as the top two boxers at flyweight, a rematch is a must.

Now that Gonzalez has made a name for himself on HBO, this could be bankrolled as a ‘Boxing After Dark’ headliner in the summer somewhere in America.

Winner versus Naoya Inoue in 2017, please?